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Over the fence: Why you legally need to return a neighbour’s ball

Kids having a kick about in the garden has been a tradition in most households over the years, and so has the annoyance of losing or having a ball enter your garden multiple times a day.

Google searches for neighbour disputes have seen a massive 264% increase since last year, most likely due to lockdown restrictions and hot weather forcing neighbours to spend unprecedented amounts of time in their homes and gardens.

To help navigate neighbourly etiquette Barratt Homes have put together advice around the laws to follow and how to handle the situation as amicably as possible.

What to do if a ball comes into your garden   

  • Return a ball if it lands in your garden   
  • Speak to the family, or take it to an authority figure if necessary   
  • Report any signs of trespass   

If a ball comes into your garden, you are legally obliged to return the ball to the owner. This can easily be resolved in most cases by simply throwing the ball back to where it came from or waiting for the neighbours to ask for it back; however, failure to comply with your neighbours and keeping hold of the ball can ultimately lead to prosecution.

If this is a recurring problem – becoming an extreme nuisance, you may want to tell the parents about the issue. Hopefully, the matter can be resolved easily, and your peace can be restored. In circumstances where this approach does not work, then it may be worth contacting the Citizens Advice Bureau who will be able to provide professional advice on what steps can be taken.

What to do if the ball causes damage   

If the ball causes damage to your property, such as a broken window, destruction of your fence or plants, then you are well within your right to ask the culprit to pay for the damage, should you know who it was.   

If you do not know who the culprit is or have not managed to resolve the issue privately, you can contact the non-emergency police number (101) who should be able to help resolve the matter.